Category: ships and shipping

Durban Shipwatch: Anastasis

My handy ship visit book records that we visited on board this classic beauty on 18 May 1996. Rudi and I went down specifically to see her, and I was carrying a large video camera but no stills camera. Rudi was to take some extra images of the ship for me for my collection but he never did and those images and the video are gone forever as Rudi passed away in December 2018 and his collection was lost. All I recall of the ship was that she really was a ship from a different age and really stunning. 

Postcard image obtained on board

My notes read: 

MV Anastasis (IMHO 5379729). Ex Victoria of Lloyd Triestino. Built Cr Adriatico, yard # 1765. 11695 GRT, 158,4 x 20,7. Sold 1978 to “Youth With A Mission” (YWAM) Co, Limassol. Used as a mobile hospital, housing 3 operating rooms, a 40 bed hospital ward, dental clinic, laboratory, x-ray unit and 3 cargo holds. In service for 29 years, she was broken up in 2007. 

Official Mercy Ships postcard

We were fortunate to have a guided tour of the ship by the lady who signed my book. Alas her surname is unrecognisable. 

DRW © 1996- 2019. Created 23/08/2019

Updated: 23/08/2019 — 20:28

S.A.S. Somerset

This post has been written many years after the fact and to be honest prior to today I have never really had much to add to a SAS Somerset post. However, I have recently found the handout I received when I visited the ship in 1993.

SAS Somerset

The one thing I do remember is how clean and well maintained she looked when I was on board, and the men in charge were rightly proud of her. Sadly as at 2019 her future is bleak and it is likely that she will end up being broken up. 

From the original handout that I received on the ship

Potted history of the SAS Somerset.

The ship was built by Blyth Shipbuilding Company and is listed as yard number 280, her machinery was built by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richards Ltd, Tyneside. Her keel was laid on 15 April 1941 and she entered service with the Royal Navy on 08 April 1942 as HMS Barcross.

HMS Barcross (1943) South African Military Museum. This photo was published in 1944 – 66 years ago – In South Africa, copyright prescribes after 50 years! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAS_Somerset

HMS Barcross and her sister ship HMS Barbrake arrived at Simonstown, in 1942 and was transferred to Saldanha Bay for boom defence operations directly thereafter. In 1943 she was re-designated as HMSAS Barcross and transferred to the South African Naval Forces for the remainder of the war. In 1946 she was was purchased by the South African Government and was used for the dumping of ammunition off Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. On completion of these services, she was transferred to Salisbury Island in Durban and was subsequently laid up at Salisbury Island. In 1951 her name was changed to SAS Somerset.

During 1955 Somerset was brought back into service and during this period she was tasked in salvaging the remains of two Harvard training aircraft following a mid air collision over Table Bay. Six weeks later she recovered a third Harvard which had crashed into the sea off Bok Point. In 1959 during a refit, Somerset had her coal fired boilers converted to oil. 

In 1961 Somerset salvaged the South African Railways tug F. Schermbrucker which had sunk in East London harbour. In 1967 she was fitted out with new boilers and a reconditioned main engine. In 1968 her services were called on again to assist the cable ship John W. Mackay to raise and repair the newly inaugurated overseas telephone cable in the shallow waters off Melkbosstrand. During 1969 Somerset raised the old whale catcher Wagter 11 in Saldanha Bay and subsequently towed her back to Simonstown. During the same year, she salvaged a floating crane which had capsized and sunk at Port Elizabeth. In the early hours of 24 July 1974 Somerset was dispatched to Cape Agulhas to assist with the salvage of the Oriental Pioneer, poor weather conditions and bad luck rendered this effort unsuccessful.

In 1981 the fishing trawler Aldebaran was successfully raised in Port Elizabeth having laid on the bottom for over two and a half years. Somerset also acted as a standby vessel during submarine shallow water diving operations. In 1983 she assisted in the salvaging of a barge and two whale catchers at Saldanha Bay. In March 1986, Somerset was finally paid off. In 1988 she was donated as a museum ship, moored at the waterfront at Cape Town.  She is the only boom defence vessel remaining in the world.  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SAS_Somerset)

SAS Somerset on the synchro-lift 04/06/1988

SAS Somerset on the synchro-lift 04/06/1988

The following images were taken by Dylan Knott on 17 February and April 2019. Sadly it appears as if the Somerset is to be broken up. Images are used with permission and are copyright to the photographer.

DRW © 2019. Created 01/03/2019. Images of Somerset on the synchro courtesy of Brian Potgieter, images of Somerset in 2019 courtesy of Dylan Knott © 2019

Updated: 16/04/2019 — 18:17

Tugboat Canning in Swansea

The preserved tug Canning, is permanently berthed in Swansea at the Swansea Maritime and Industrial Museum. She was built in 1954 and built by Cochrane & Sons of Selby for the Alexandra Towing Company and was based at Liverpool until being transferred to Swansea in 1966.  She became the last steam tug to operate in the Bristol Channel, serving until 1974. She was retired to the Museum in 1975. (https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/4/canning)

She is a oil burner with a triple expansion engine by C D Holmes & Co. Ltd., Hull. Unusually  there is even a builders plate for her engine makers on board.

She was not in a perfect condition and really needed some paint and derusting. I was unable to get onto the pontoon to see what she is like on the other side, and photographic positions were limited by the fence. Berthed ahead of her was the preserved light vessel “Lightship 91”, known as ‘Helwick’, and she too was very difficult to photograph. 

To the best of my knowledge neither ships are open to the public.

DRW © 2018-2019, Created 11/10/2018

Updated: 24/07/2019 — 05:31

Liverpool Naval Memorial

Liverpool Naval Memorial may be found on the Mersey River Bank between the Ferry Terminal  and the Museum of Liverpool. (GPS co-ordinates: 53.40349, -2.99659). There are 1408 identified casualties from the Second World War  on the memorial. 

The memorial was designed by C. Blythin and S.H. Smith and was unveiled by the Admiral of the Fleet, The Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, K.T., G.C.B., O.M., D.S.O., on the 12th November 1952.

More than 13000 officers and men from the Merchant Navy served with the Royal Navy and they were  subject to Naval discipline while generally retaining their Merchant Navy rates of pay and other conditions. Liverpool was manning port for many of the various types of auxiliary vessels, including armed merchant cruisers and boarding vessels, cable ships, rescue tugs, and others on special service. 

Representative panel

Representative panel

Two of the more well known ships on the memorial are HMS Rawalpindi and HMS Jervis Bay which were both sunk protecting their convoys from German surface raiders.

The memorial is a difficult one to photograph as it is a very popular spot with people, and I was never really able to get decent photographs of it from land side, and the closest I got from the ferry was:

It is also very close to the statue of Captain Frederic John Walker RN.

Appropriately the Merchant Navy Memorial is also in this area.

This was not one of my better memorial explorations, but if ever I return I will rectify the situation.

DRW © Created 16/06/2018

Updated: 17/07/2018 — 06:10

Merchant Navy Memorials, Liverpool

The Merchant Navy Memorials in Liverpool are situated on the waterfront facing the Mersey and the Birkenhead side of the river bank.  The city played an important role in the Battle of the Atlantic as Western Approaches Command was based in the city, and many of the men and ships that sailed in the convoys came from this port.

A few metres further is a raised block with a number of relevant dedications. The two memorials are between Google Earth co-ordinates: 53.403829°  -2.996822°

Of particular relevance was this plaque that does not really make up for the lack of recognition of men and women from so many other countries that lost their lives in the Merchant Navy during both wars.

There was also an Arandora Star Plaque which served as a reminder that all ships were in danger of being sunk, whether combatant or non-combatant.

Norwegians, Poles and Belgians are also commemorated on this block.

Unfortunately these plaques are mounted on what appears to be some sort of housing for some unidentified machinery/access chamber and really do not connect too well with the Merchant Navy Memorial close by. I would have thought that a unified MN memorial would have meant much more instead of having these two distinct groupings that appear as an afterthought. 

The Maritime Museum also had a very good Merchant Navy exhibition on while I was visiting. 

A few steps away is the Liverpool Naval War Memorial which I will cover separately.

DRW © 2018. Created 05/06/2018

Updated: 17/07/2018 — 06:11

Liverpool Cenotaph

The Cenotaph in Liverpool may be found at Google Earth co-ordinates  53.408540°,  -2.979478°, it is situated in front of St George’s Hall and consists of a  rectangular block of stone on a platform, with bronze, low-relief sculptures on the sides depicting marching troops and mourners. It was designed by Lionel Budden, with carving by Herbert Tyson Smith. It is a Grade I listed building.

​The inscription on the front face reads:

TO THE THE MEN OF LIVERPOOL WHO FELL IN THE GREAT WAR

AND ALL WHO HAVE FALLEN IN CONFLICT SINCE.

AND THE VICTORY THAT DAY WAS TURNED INTO MOURNING UNTO ALL THE PEOPLE

 

This addition to the Cenotaph was unveiled in May 2003 by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Jack Spriggs. The inscription reads: 

THIS PLAQUE COMMEMORATES

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC

AND THE PIVOTAL ROLE PLAYED BY THE CITY

AND PORT OF LIVERPOOL IN THIS THE

LONGEST AND MOST CRUCIAL SEA AND AIR 

CAMPAIGN OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR

THIS BATTLE LASTED 5 YEARS, 8 MONTHS, 4 DAYS;
HAD IT BEEN LOST, SO TOO WOULD HAVE BEEN THE WAR

BY THE MARKER, LIVERPOOL’S  UNPARALLELED SERVICE
AND SACRIFICE SHALL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.

As far as Cenotaphs go it is really not a very noticeable one, although the carvings are very beautiful. It is really overshadowed by the very large St George’s Hall behind it and while appropriate to the setting is just does not make much of an impact. 

The inscription on the rear face reads:

AS UNKNOWN AND YET WELL KNOWN AS DYING AND BEHOLD WE LIVE.

OUT OF THE NORTH PARTS, A GREAT COMPANY AND A MIGHTY ARMY

It was only dedicated in November 1930 and the delay was attributed to the Lord Mayor who announced that due to the high unemployment he was postponing the appeal for funds. The appeal was finally initiated in 1925.

DRW © 2018 Created 04/08/2018

Updated: 17/07/2018 — 06:11

Waterline Ships Master List

Master list of ships in my collection.  Unfortunately it fell behind because it is difficult to add to it, but I am updating it as at 22/06/2019

Ship Maker Ship Maker
Cunard Line      
Queen Elizabeth Triang Minic HMS Turmoil x 2 Triang Minic
Queen Mary Triang Minic HMS Vanguard Triang Minic
Carinthia Triang Minic KD Bismarck Triang Minic
Ivernia Triang Minic KD Scharnhorst Triang Minic
Aquitania Triang Minic HMS Gloucester (D96) Triang Minic
Caronia Triang Minic USS Bunker Hill Triang Minic
1st Mauretania Albatros USS Spruance Triang Minic
Lusitania Atlas Editions USS Guardian Triang Minic
2nd Mauretania Resin Steam tugs 8 Triang Minic
QE2 Revell HMS Vigilant (M787) Triang Minic
    HMS Bulwark Triang Minic
United States Triang Minic HMS Ark Royal (R07) Triang Minic
NS Savannah Triang Minic IJN Yamato Triang Minic
Varicella Triang Minic USS Missouri Triang Minic
Britannia Triang Minic HMS Swiftsure Triang Minic
Canberra Triang Minic HMS Repton Triang Minic
Vikingen Triang Minic HMS Sutherland Triang Minic
Isle of Sark Triang Minic Pilot boat Triang Minic
City of Durban Triang Minic Ferry Triang Minic
China bulker Triang Minic HMS Bangor (M1099) Triang Minic
C2 Cargo x 4 Triang Minic HMS Brockleberry Triang Minic
Aragon Triang Minic HMS Whitby (M791) Triang Minic
Nieuw Amsterdam Triang Minic HMS Daring (M77) Triang Minic
Flandre Triang Minic HMS Daring (D32) Triang Minic
The Victoria Mercury HMS York (D98) Triang Minic
 Oriana Mercator HMS Chatham (F87) Triang Minic
 France Triang Minic HMS Whitby (M798) Triang Minic
Union-Castle Line   HMS Alamein (M799) Triang Minic
CT Castle rebuild Hein Muck Resin  HMS Dainty (M773) Triang Minic
Carnarvon Castle Albatros  Diesel tugs 2 Triang Minic
Capetown Castle Hein Muck Resin Floating crane Triang Minic
Athlone Castle Len Jordan Resin Floating crane CM
Stirling Castle  Len Jordan Resin HM Castle Class trawler MB Models
Pendennis Castle CM HMCS Snowberry Navis Neptune
Pretoria Castle Albatros HMS Begonia x 2 Navis Neptune
Dunottar Castle Hein Muck Resin HMS Bangor Neptune
Llandaff Castle Len Jordan Resin HMS Tulip  Ensign
Reina Del Mar Len Jordan Resin HMS Achilles (F12) Mountford
Rochester Castle Resin HM Submarine K26 MB Models
Durban Castle Hein Muck Resin HM Submarine K5 MB Models
Windsor Castle  Albatros HM Submarine X-1 MB Models
Transvaal Castle CM HM Submarine M-2 MB Models
Dunnottar Castle Albatros Submarine tender Saar Mercator
Bloemfontein Castle CM 5 x unbranded corvettes Oceanic
Rhodesia Castle CM HMS Tiger Mountford
SY Iolaire Albatros River Class Frigate Neptun
Balmoral Castle Rhenania HMS Renown Atlas Editions
Capetown Castle CM HMS Nelson Atlas Editions
Gloucester Castle  Navis HMS Warspite Atlas Editions
Walmer Castle Solent USS Essex Atlas Editions
    HMS Hood Atlas Editions
Victoria Len Jordan Resin HMS Prince of Wales  Atlas Editions
Arcadia Len Jordan Resin SS TItanic  Atlas Editions
Reina Del Pacifico Hein Muck Resin City of Durban Len Jordan
Andes Hein Muck Resin  SA John Ross  3D print
Marco Polo Resin  SA Wolraad Woltemade  3D print
Ocean Terminal  Triang Minic SS Ohio Len Jordan 
Floating dock  Triang Minic Liberty ship Len Jordan 
 Empire Day  Len Jordan Resin Rapana Len Jordan 
 Leda   CM City of Durham Len Jordan 
Astor Albatros  RMS St Helena x 2  Oceanic
Australis Resin  RMS St Helena (1)  3D print
Achille Lauro CMKR Olympic CM
    Shieldhall Rhenania
German 4 Funnelers      
Deutschland  CM    
Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse  Mercator    
Kaiser Wilhelm II  Mercator    
       
       
       

DRW © 2018-2019. Created 04/02/2018, updated 14/02/2019

Updated: 21/07/2019 — 08:31

John Travers “Jack” Cornwell VC

John Travers “Jack” Cornwell 08/01/1900 – 02/06/1916 was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions on board HMS Chester during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916.

The Citation reads:
“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the grant of the Victoria Cross to Boy, First Class, John Travers Cornwell, O.N.J.42563 (died 2 June 1916), for the conspicuous act of bravery specified below. Mortally wounded early in the action, Boy, First Class, Jack Travers Cornwell remained standing alone at a most exposed post, quietly awaiting orders, until the end of the action, with the gun’s crew dead and wounded all round him. His age was under sixteen and a half years.”

On 31 May 1916, Chester was scouting ahead of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland when the ship turned to investigate gunfire in the distance. At 17:30 hours, the Chester soon came under intense fire from four Kaiserliche Marine cruisers each her own size which had suddenly emerged from the haze and increasing funnel smoke of the battlefield. The shielded 5.5-inch gun mounting where Cornwell was serving as a sight-setter was affected by at least four nearby hits. The Chester’s gun mountings were open-backed shields and did not reach down to the deck. Splinters were thus able to pass under them or enter the open back when shells exploded nearby or behind. All the gun’s crew were killed or mortally injured except Cornwell, who, although severely wounded, managed to stand up again and remain at his post for more than 15 minutes, until Chester retired from the action with only one main gun still working. Chester had received a total of 18 hits, but partial hull armour meant that the interior of the ship suffered little serious damage and the ship itself was never in peril. Nevertheless, the situation on deck was dire. Many of the gun crews had lost lower limbs due to splinters passing under the gun shields. British ships report passing the Chester to cheers from limbless wounded gun crew laid out on her deck and smoking cigarettes, only to hear that the same crewmen had died a few hours later from blood loss and shock.

After the action, ship medics arrived on deck to find Cornwell the sole survivor at his gun, shards of steel penetrating his chest, looking at the gun sights and still waiting for orders. Being incapable of further action, Chester was ordered to the port of Immingham. There Cornwell was transferred to Grimsby General Hospital, although he was clearly dying. He died on the morning of 2 June 1916 before his mother could arrive at the hospital. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Cornwell

He is buried in the City of London Cemetery, Manor Park, East London.

The 5,5 Inch gun that Jack Cornwell manned is on display at the Imperial War Museum.

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 21/05/2017. Jack Cornwell grave courtesy of Mark Green.

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:47

Donald Owen Clarke GC

Donald Owen Clarke (05/03/1923 – 08/09/1942) was posthumously awarded the George Cross for his actions on 08-09/08/1942 off coast of Trinidad while a crewman of the tanker San Emiliano.

“On the night of the 8th-9th August 1942, Clarke was serving on board the tanker “San Emiliano” when it was hit by two torpedoes and her cargo of petroleum burst into flames, turning the ship into an inferno. Clarke was trapped in his cabin but fought his way out on deck and boarded the only lifeboat that was still intact. It was full of burnt and wounded men, and he himself was badly burnt on the face, hands and legs. When the boat was lowered onto the sea, it started to drift back towards the flaming tanker and it was evident that it would require a tremendous effort to pull it out of danger. Most of the occupants, however, were so badly injured that they were unable to help. Despite his injuries, Clarke took an oar and pulled heartily for 2 hours without complaint, and only when the boat was well clear did he collapse and then his hands had to be cut away from the oar as the burnt flesh had stuck to it. He died a few hours later of his injuries.”

Clarke’s body was lost at sea off the coast of Trinidad, and he is commemorated on the Merchant Navy Memorial at Tower Hill in London.

 

© DRW 2016-2018. Information from Victoriacrossonline

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:49

William Charles Williams VC

William Charles Williams (15/09/1880 – 25/04/1915) was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the landings at Gallipoli in 1915.

The Citation reads:

“On 25 April 1915 during the landing on V Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli, Turkey, Williams, with three other men (George Leslie Drewry, Wilfred St. Aubyn Malleson and George McKenzie Samson) was assisting the commander (Edward Unwin) of their ship, HMS River Clyde (previously the SS River Clyde) at the work of securing the lighters. He held on to a rope for over an hour, standing chest deep in the sea, under continuous enemy fire. He was eventually dangerously wounded and later killed by a shell whilst his rescue was being effected by the commander who described him as the bravest sailor he had ever met.”

His body was lost in the carnage of Gallipoli, and he is Commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial panel 8 column 1

 

© DRW 2017-2018. Created 28/02/2017

Updated: 11/01/2018 — 20:41
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